Oct 7, 2022 - News

Lolita the orca under medical supervision at Seaquarium

Lolita the orca does a backflip in her pool-like tank.

Lolita the orca in 2014. Photo: Walter Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Lolita, a killer whale who has resided at Miami Seaquarium for 50 years, is battling medical issues as activists renew calls that she be released into the wild.

What's happening: The 56-year-old orca, also known as Tokitae or Toki, is experiencing a loss of appetite and is under "round-the-clock" medical supervision, Seaquarium announced this week.

  • Lolita suffered an "acute illness" late last year, and she's been receiving treatment for a "chronic infection" for over a year, according to independent health assessments.
  • Seaquarium released a statement Sunday saying the decrease in appetite is not "critical" and that medication has stabilized her health.

A Miami Seaquarium spokesperson declined to respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is working with Seaquarium, the advocacy group Friends of Lolita, and the group's independent veterinary team to monitor Lolita's health, a county spokesperson told Axios.

Of note: Seaquarium is on county land leased to its owners.

What they're saying: Researcher and activist Howard Garrett told Axios that Lolita's declining health is a reminder that she belongs in her natural habitat on the Pacific Coast.

  • "I have been assured by people who have seen her that she is going to get through this, that this isn't terminal, and I want to believe that, but I don't know for sure," he said.

PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman told Axios in a statement that Miami Seaquarium should have released Lolita long ago, along with the other animals in its tanks.

  • "Lolita's health will surely continue to decline as long as she's still imprisoned in the smallest, most depressing orca tank in the world," Reiman said.

Yes, but: Experts worry that Lolita's infections could be spread to other endangered killer whales if she were to be released, the Guardian reports.

  • Some have also raised concerns about her health if she made a long journey.

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